Excerpt from White Tunnel: Ran’s Grief

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On the way home to his cabin, Ran’s mind drifted backward in time to a dingy two-bedroom rental in need of repair. The house was always dark these days. Without air conditioning, drawing the curtains was the only way to keep it cool. Once reasonably clean, everything was now covered in dust. Ran didn’t clean much since he started working full-time, and his mother had been bed-ridden for months.

She was gone now.

Ran saw himself enter the vacant house, removing his shoes and placing them by the front door. He passed through the living room, treading an eternally matted and very outdated carpet, and moved into the kitchen. He didn’t bother with the lights. The fridge was empty, but for a carton of orange juice and some bread. It’s not that they weren’t able to afford food – there just hadn’t been time to eat at home lately. Ran spent his days working and visiting his mother in the hospital. Oh, and sometimes he made an appearance at school. But since learning he would have to repeat twelfth grade, that was becoming less frequent.

Ran grabbed the orange juice and took a glass from the cabinet. He brought his beverage into the living room and sat on the couch to drink it. Mom had passed early that morning. Ran usually worked overnight, so he received the call from the hospital when he was still working. It was like a dream. She was alive yesterday, and now she wasn’t.

Ran rested his head back on the couch cushion and wept quietly. You don’t outgrow sorrow or grief. They visit you when they must, depriving your body and soul of strength while they hover over you like a shadow. They keep you company at least when you’re alone.

Like Ran was now.